Day 21 -National Preparedness Month Challenge -72 Hour Kits – Comfort and Entertainment
Most of us have taken the great American road trip at some point in our life time. As much fun as they are, they can also be long, boring, and easily a sanity breaker. Our family does quite a few road trips and there are always two things that I prepare for to make it smoother and more enjoyable – comfort and entertainment. The aftermath of a disaster isn’t going to be much different than a car trip. Cramped quarters, not a lot to do, the same landscape for miles around, no place to wander and play, and everyone is edgy. Doesn’t sound like a fun trip. However what we add to our 72 hour kits today can turn this traumatic period into a time of healing and help make everyone a little happier and easier to deal with.
Here are some things that I would consider a must for your kit:A car trip with children requires LOTS of entertainment! And all of us know that our sanity level is on edge when that runs out. In a disaster situation, your kids are going to be acting similar (or worse) than a car trip. High Strung, antsy, irritable, and whiny! And that’s just you; your kids will be WORSE! You are going to need all the help you can get. Make sure you take this into consideration in your kits. Not just for the kids but for yourself. The diversions not only help everyone remain calm but it actually keeps them from ruminating on the event and facilitates better coping as the brain takes a break. Remember your entertainment needs to be versatile so it can be repeated with out losing interest and a portion should be family oriented.
- Paper and pencils are important to not just for entertainment but a lot of the coping emotionally will be happening in that notebook, whether drawing, or writing. I would avoid crayons because they could melt in the sun or if it’s to hot in the car. Use markers or color pencils and include a sharpener.
- Activity books, Sudoku, word searches, and cross word puzzles are great ways to keep your brain active but relaxed.
- Games – Card games are a great solution- UNO, Phase 10, Old Maid, and Go Fish. Travel games are a great option as well. Sometimes Burger King has travel games in their happy meals if there isn’t a themed toy so be on the look out there. Hit the dollar store for a great variety of small puzzles, toys and travel sized games.
- Books- Be sure the books are new and unfamiliar but similar to some beloved favorites. If your kids have a stack of favorites that they could read for hours – purchase a second copy and pack them as well. Familiarity is an important thing in helping them cope as well. Don’t forget school workbooks since it could be awhile before schools open. Home schooling will help establish a familiar routine and a sense of normalcy, which is vital for emotional recovery.
- Avoid battery operated toys or devices! You don’t want to carry 20 lbs of batteries and they will go through them – FAST! Besides, we’ve all experienced the melt down that accompanies being forced to turn something off, or when the batteries die. This is the last thing you need, so don’t go there.
- Comfort items – every child seems to have that one ratty stuffed animal that they literally can’t live without. Don’t forget it! Pack a second in your pack or get as close as possible. You are not going to be able to search your house looking for it. If their favorite changes frequently, just be sure to pack something. A security item is important in helping them cope, and gives them a feeling of security. Once again a small dollar store stuffed animal is a great way to go. Same with a small blanket which you can also find at dollar stores.
- Look for small little toys for kids. Brain teasers, little puzzles, small lego packs (they have the 3 in one variety which is perfect for this), matchbox cars, small action figures and character toys, etc. If you’re kids have a stash of toys they don’t play with anymore, steal a few and add those to your pack. They’re familiar and will be that much more comforting in a disaster situation.
- Disposable camera – not only are these needed for insurance documentation but something about having a camera to goof off with or capture some the adventure can help relieve the stress of the moment.
- Craft supplies – with kids this could last about 5 minutes, but a small necklace kit (usually a dollar at most craft stores) or foam building kit can go a long way. For adults this is a really great way to relax, too. Knitting, crocheting, and cross stitching are great ways to take your mind off everything around you to relax and recoup.
- List of indoor games and rules- it’s been awhile since elementary school and many of our favorite games aren’t played any more. Chances are you don’t remember them – but that is a weight free game that can be taken along.
- This site has it all, simply print a few and add them to your pack www.fungameskidsplay.com– classic games, clapping games, etc
Another option to consider is an Emergency Entertainment pack. Instead of packing a little in each pack; create one pack dedicated to entertainment. The following link is to an article with full instructions. I think this is the coolest idea. My kids are so excited about this pack that my daughter prayed for an earthquake for weeks after packing it just so we could use it. http://www.whathappensnow.com/articles_show.cfm?id=594&sub=0
It may seem like you’ll have tons of work to do and that you won’t have time to relax or play. But after the trauma of a disaster, taking the time to relax, process things and take care of your mental state is actually the most productive thing that you can do to aid your recovery (emotional and physically). Even if you don’t feel like can relax, that will be the time you need it the most.
It’s hard to think that anything will make you feel more comfortable after a disaster.
But remember the little things. What are the things that can make things a bit more durable?
- Sleeping bags or comfortable blankets – yes every kit should have the reflective super blanket, but let’s face it they’re like snuggling up to tin foil. An ultra light sleeping bag or even a cheap light fleece blanket can be a small source of joy. An inflatable or ultra light pillow would be heavenly.
- Hygiene – There’s nothing like being able to shower after a long day. Sorry I can’t help you there unless you decide to pack a camp shower (possible but bulky). However simple items for personal hygiene can go a long way towards making you feel human again
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Toothbrushes and toothpaste
- Wet wipes
- Help against the weather – sunglasses or umbrellas/ponchos can certainly ease discomfort. A hat and jacket go along with this
- Comfort food – already covered in day 14, but a little extra favorite can sure help. I can’t say enough for chocolate, but even a favorite soup or treat will work.
- Contraceptives – (BLUSH!) It may be the farthest thing from your mind now about what you’ll be doing after a disaster, but my midwife in South Dakota swears that any kind of black out is always followed by a surge in babies nine months later. Just be prepared so you don’t have to fret or deal with morning sickness while trying to get your life back together.
- Toilet paper – never leave home without it. Same with diaper wipes
- Hand warmers – really helpful for young kids too since they can be placed inside blankets and help keep the whole body warm as well.
- Family Pictures – That way you have something to help you remember those happy times and what’s really important.
- Scriptures – We always need something that will lift us a little high than what we can see.
This is the area of your 72 hour kit that will be the most personally tailored to you and your family. Take some time to think about those little things that make the biggest difference. If you’re having trouble figuring out what to pack, remember the last time you were sick. What was it that you really wanted, that made the biggest difference. It may be that snuggly blanket, it could be a simply note from a friend or family member (you could write on to your kids or ask someone to write one to you that could be sealed and packed in your kit for an extra pick me up.
Today’s Challenge: Gather your Entertainment and Comfort items for your 72 hour kits.
Good: Make a list of the entertainment and comfort items that you need to add to your kit.
Better: Purchase or add half of those items to your kit.
Best: Finish your kit! OR Make a completed Emergency Entertainment Kit.